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I just sent this to them:

"Nice job, you lost a customer. Between my bike, Metro and the King Street Trolley, I don't need you anymore. I was planning on using you in the event that I get stuck in bad weather or late at night somewhere with my bike, or on days I don't take my bike to work (meaning: all winter long), but I'd much rather spend my money on something that promotes alternative transportation and sustainable living. So, with or without my bike....I'm done with DASH."

Not that it's going to make a difference. Alexandria is an amazing place to live (seriously, I've lived many different places in this country, abroad and in this metro area and Old Town is at or near the top of the list), but dealing with The City (meaning City Hall) is the most horrendous experience imaginable. They are completely nonsensical and make facts up out of thin air (or say things like: "we have no idea how much X costs the city but we know that if you want to continue X we'd have to charge you $YY,YYY because that's how much it costs the city"). Seriously.

I'm just lucky that I personally don't actually need racks on DASH buses, but that's because I live pretty much as much "smack in the middle of Alexandria" as you can get. But, I also don't need DASH at all (like my letter said). I can easily walk from Metro to home, or take the trolley, or ride my bike. The racks on DASH would be useful for a whole host of other folks who didn't win the geographic lottery, though. So I'm just done with DASH.

Seems a harsh way to react to a budget decision, and a weak protest of a system where every ride is subsidized.

Didn't the the League of American Bicyclists recently add Alexandia to its bike friendly city list? From what I can see Alexandria wants nothing to do with bicycles as transportation.

@Catherine: I'm not following your logic: "I'd much rather spend my money on something that promotes alternative transportation and sustainable living." Doesn't a mass transit system do just that? Also: "I was planning on using you...late at night." DASH stops running by 9:30 or so, so it wouldn't have been a good late-night alternative for you anyone...though, I'm curious, if you are boycotting DASH, what sustainable-living alternative form of transportation are you going to use in such cases?

I'm just annoyed at dealing with City Hall. Harsh response? Maybe. But it's maddening dealing with these folks sometimes, and it's not just about bicycles--it's a whole host of budget decisions that make little to no sense while continuing to pour good money after bad with certain other programs and pet projects. Oh, and a whole lot of "oops we just made a new rule and you and your group that's been bugging us are the only ones affected...funny how that works, now go away and be quiet".

So, I'll be using Metro (rail and bus), the King Street Trolley, and my own two legs. It's not really a boycott as I rarely have to use DASH but now I'm just going to make sure I don't, in favor of Metro (there are MetroBus routes in and around Alexandria, too). I didn't mean late night like 1am, I meant later commute hours--like 8 and 9, on the "had to stay late at work unexpectedly" days.

Thanks very much to all who have written to the Alexandria Council or to DASH about this and who have otherwise helped spread the word. :)

The new DASH facilities allow buses with bike racks, so they can happen if DASH gets serious about them (DASH hasn't done anything to indicate that they are a priority). As for Alexandria, they make a lot of nice plans but are slow to follow through. We just have to keep after them.

I heard back from two councilmen but Kerry Donnely actually responded in detail (see below):

Thank you for writing about your support for the addition of bike racks on DASH busses through the use of CMAQ and RSTP funding. Last evening, the Council adopted a request for funding in the amount of $5.1 million and the bike racks were #4 on the priority list for funding. Once our request is evaluated and funding is awarded, the City will then begin a process of addressing our top priorities with the funding available through this grant. Based upon recent history, the City will most likely not receive the full amount requested. Thus we will have to reprioritize our request which may ultimately enhance the chances that the bike rack allocation is made. Additionally, the City is also including bike racks for DASH busses in additional grant requests beyond the CMAQ and RSTP funding request.

As an avid cyclist, I appreciate your request and I feel it is appropriate for the City to promote bike racks on DASH busses. DASH is just now beginning to add these racks on new busses being purchased and added to the fleet. In order to get maximum benefit however, we need to add them to our existing busses. It is my hope that when we reprioritize, the CMAQ and RSTP funding that we will be able to include the bike racks. Much will depend upon available funding, however.

Thanks again for writing.

Kerry J. Donley
Vice Mayor

I had also written to the City Council and got the same e-mail response from the Vice Mayor as Eric W.

I also received a response (within a couple hours of writing and before the actual council meeting) from Councilman Krupicka, who was not going to be able to attend the meeting (out of town on business). He agreed with the need for bike racks on the buses, but pointed to limited funds and a need for some replacement buses as limiting factors (I'm paraphrasing). At least he's aware of the situation, and I was glad that he responded so fast...

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